The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How much do you buy at a time?

butterflygrooves's picture

How much do you buy at a time?

I've been going through flour and yeast like crazy lately!  When you buy your bread ingredients how much do you buy at a time?

I've bought the 5lb bag of Gold Medal Better for Bread flour the last 2 times (in 2 weeks) and the jar of Fleischmans AD Yeast twice in a month.

Yeah, yeah I know I should be buying better quality but the bread is generally just for us and I don't want to spend a ton of money.  I could definitely stand to buy more flour so I can make all the bread I want, I hate having to put off making a new kind of bread because I only have so much flour left and there is already a sandwich loaf made.

I'm thinking of buying in bulk but then I wouldn't know where to keep it...

PaddyL's picture

I switched to Fleischmann's instant yeast, $4.99 Cdn. for a pound, because it's much cheaper than the active dry in the jars; you use less.  And I buy 10 kg bags of unbleached a-p flour - that's about 22 lbs.  It keeps me going for about 10 days, but I use it for cookies as well as bread.  I'd buy more if I had the space, but I just don't, not in our flat.

Floydm's picture

At the start of baking season, say October or so, I hit the local Cash & Carry and pick up a pound of Saf Yeast  and a 25lb bag of Unbleached Bread Flour (Pendleton Mills' MorBread, which is great flour).  Together those are under $20.  

Whole Wheat Flour, which I do not use as much of, I still pick up at the grocery store.   

I usually go through the flour by mid or late December.  One more bag gets me through the Spring.

During the slow baking months I just buy 5lb bags of flour at the grocery.

The yeast keeps well in a glass jar in the fridge and usually gets me through the year.  I keep the big bag of flour in my pantry rolled up tight and so far, knock on wood, haven't had any problems with moths or rodents.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

I shop at Cash and Carry too, thanks to some old posts by Floydm, and I also buy the Pendelton Mills flour there.  The flour is excellent, and I have switched off of King Arthur to Pendelton Mills because it performs so well, and the P.M. prices at C&C are very econcomical as Floyd already pointed out.

I must bake more than Floyd because I buy the P.M. Power flour in 50lb bags in addition to the 25lb P.M. MorBread flour he buys, and they don't last me as long.  I found the big dough rising buckets on sale at C&C as well, for about $15 with lid, so I have a bottom pantry shelf in the kitchen with three of those on it to hold the flours.  I pull one out and refill my 5lb and 10lb "working stock" containers from those.

I bake mostly sourdough, so I don't buy very much yeast.  I bought 1lb of SAF Gold from last Christmas season, and have 4-5oz of that left.  I'll do the same when it runs out.

I use quite a lot of whole wheat flour because almost all of my "regular" formulas include 5-15% whole wheat, as well as a little bit of rye flour.  I grind my own hard white whole wheat flour though, from whole berries I buy in bulk at our local health food store.  I grind 3-4lbs each time, nd keep it in the same pantry cupboard.

Yeah, yeah, you should be buying better quality ingredients:  the very best you are willing to afford.  Sounds like you are already doing that, but if you have a Cash and Carry within range you should check it out.  You can get even better flour, for even less money.  Then you can bake more, and if you can't eat it all, you can become very popular with your neighbors!


butterflygrooves's picture

There aren't any Cash and Carry stores around here but we do have Smart & Final, are they similar?  They carry KA flours but I haven't looked at the rest of the baking aisle.

Floydm's picture

I don't know Smart & Final first hand, but looking at them online they look pretty similar.  Basically a store where small restaurants do their ingredient shopping.  

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

Cash and Carry is owned by Smart and Final, and we have both within our local "range".  They do not carry the same products, however.  S&F is set up more as a competitor to the "Warehouse Store" (eg:  Costco) but on a much smaller scale and with more of a restaurant/food service orientation.  C&C is definitely a restaurant and food service supplier.  Few small packges of anything, and almost none of the common grocery store products.  If they do have those they are sold in case-units rather than individually.

My local S&F also carries a couple of King Arthur flours, notably All Purpose flour in 10lb bags (for about $8.50/bag) and KAF white whole wheat, but I've never bought that and don't recall the particulars.  Their baking aisle has a number of alternatives for "big bag" quantites but I've never seen an unbleached option there.  C&C, on the other hand, offers the Pendleton Mills flours and a couple others.  They also have some Bob's Red Mill flours (Dark Rye that I recall, and also cornmeal) in larger bags, but I've not purchased any of those yet.


butterflygrooves's picture

The bags of flour are 10lbs each, not 5...  That's 10 lbs a week!

MichaelH's picture

Bought 75 lbs. flour from King Arthur in their recent free shipping sale. It stores very well in my cold room.

Yesterday I bought about 50 lbs each of white and red wheat berries, plus 50 lbs each of rye and spelt berries. The supplier threw in another 25 lbs of a special hard white wheat that she is thinking about carrying and asked me to test it.

My new grain mill arrives Monday.

I keep my SAF yeast in the freezer as I don't use it much. One lb lasts 2-3 years.


stevenkvamme's picture

Morbread 12% protein

Power 13.5% protein

What type of breads do you make with each flour?

If I'm only buying one type, which do you prefer?

bnom's picture

I prefer the Morbread. I suppose the power flour would be good if you were using a bread machine, but if not--go for the Morbread.

mrfrost's picture

I buy only items that I desire, mostly when they are on sale. About a couple of times per year. This means mainly during the Thankgiving/Christmas period and again, around Easter.

My last couple of buys were seven 5# bags of GM bread flour for 94 cents(on sale and after coupons) each bag, during those past 2 periods. It also included a few bags of White Lily bread flour ofr $1.49 each. I store it in my basement in a large pic nik cooler.

Just recently stocked up with about a total of 11 bags. That should last until about Easter(or whenever).

I buy SAF bulk yeast for $2.69 for a one pound block at a local "farmer's market". This covers me for about a year since I usually include a little sour dough starter in most of my breads(usually cut yeast by 25 - 50%).

If I could find a bulk source that was as cheap as these prices, I would. But until then, can't beat these sale prices.

3 Olives's picture
3 Olives

I figured it was time to try some flour that isn't readily available here and placed an order with NY Bakers a couple of days ago. It's an early Christmas gift to myself along with some Peter Reinhart books and Ad Hoc.

mkelly27's picture

I usually buy a 50# bag o' flour at my local restaraunt supply co. that sells to the pulbic (Yeah! GFS) about every 6 weeks, for my white flour.  My special flours get bought in 5# bags and stored in the fridge (Rye, WW, Semolina) and I buy those anywhere I can find them.  Yeast is always in 2# bags and stored in the freezer when not used, (about 6#/yr) I usually buy a big bottle of Caraway Seed at GFS as well because I make a lot of Caraway Rye.  Buying Caraway in a large amount is a "huge" savings, I was thinking about buying 5# from "Penzey's" to save even more

  My Latest score was buying a sealable  50# pet food platic storage container for my bags o' flour.  It is food-safe and has an airtight seal on the top flap.  it is slimline and has wheels so it can fit almost anywhere.  I usually fill up a 1 galoon container for my "flour at hand" and scoop the rest.

butterflygrooves's picture


mkelly27's picture

I get too localize, Gordon Food Service is a Midwest US restaraunt supply service with retail locations. They are much like Sysco or any other wholesale supply co. but they also offer retail outlets so that the common folk can buy restaraunt quality/quantity goods

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

My wife's eyebrows arched a bit last week after I brought home 10# of fresh milled hard red winter wheat from a local farm and 10# of Dakota Maid BF from our trip to Omaha for Thanksgiving. I already had about 14# of assorted flavors before I started my stock up splurge. Lots of rustic loaves for the next few months while the weather is less than perfect.

arlo's picture

Since I work at a bakery, I typically buy 50lb bags of KAF varieties for around $18.01 per bag. Pretty much all my baking supplies I buy at cost from my bakery, it's rather nice : )

Otherwise I am at my local coop buying the different grains and ect. there.

butterflygrooves's picture

There is a bakery that I really like at our farmers market, would they look at me like I'm crazy if I asked if they would sell me flour?

foodslut's picture

.... so I buy a 45lbs/20kg bag of unbleached AP flour every 3-4 months (retail warehouse, ~$20 Cdn), with smaller bags (1-10 lbs) of other flours as I need them (stone ground whole wheat, stone ground light & daek rye).  1lb/450g instant dry yeast lasts me ~3-4 months as well.

mammiesbaker's picture

I buy 50 pounds of high gluten flour at a time from my local wholesaler.  I bake 8 to 12 loaves of pumpernickle bread every week for a local restaurant.  I buy the caraway seeds from San Franscisco Herb.  I usually buy 10 pounds at a time.  It is the best price I have found anywhere.  I am able to use the high gluten flour for the sourdough loaves I bake every week for us.  I have to order my rye flour since no local stores carry it.  My large orders of flour I store in large bins with tight fitting lids from King Arthur Flour Catalogue.  I use the instant yeast, and am able to get it in the bricks from wholesale companies.  Opened packages store in the freezer.

jennyloh's picture

After 1 year of baking, I've been constantly baking 2-3 loaves per week. Considering this frequency and costs, I got a 22kg sack of flour from a friend who owns a restaurant that bakes their own bread. I gathered I should be able to use it within 20weeks (6 mths) or less if I bake 1kg per week. 2.5 kg cost me Rmb 50, and 22kg costs me rmb 200, the choice is pretty clear.

For yeast I buy instant SAF, I think it's 1kg, put into my glass coffee container, last me up to a year, kept in cupboard away from heat.

Yerffej's picture

If cost is a consideration you can eliminate the expense of yeast by baking with sourdough.  Not only will this make a notable difference in the cost of the bread but it will make a healthier product.


butterflygrooves's picture

I'm currently working on getting my starter more sour.  We do like regular yeast breads though so all sourdough won't happen.  I can afford to buy more than 10# bags of flour, just need to find a store that carries large quantities of good flour and yeast (and figure out where to store it).

jackie9999's picture

I buy my flour at the local Bulk barn - it's my only source of unbleached AP flour (Robin Hood does not sell unbleached AP). Mainly, I stock up on their unbleached bread flour for $1.88/kg CND. I buy about 8kg every month or so and store it in my coolish basement.

highmtnpam's picture

50 lbs of AP and 40 lbs of Bread Flour, as well as about 15 lb of whole wheat and 10 lbs whole rye. I buy most of this flour at the local co-op or if we are in the big city, I buy it from Costco. I order other types of flour from NYB.  I keep mine in Vittle Vaults. They are air tight and waterproof. I keep mine in the garage. The vital vaults are pest free, too. Being in the garage, this keeps the "transfer" mess down to a minimum.  I have flour drawers in my kitchen which makes baking much faster :).  


KYHeirloomer's picture

I buy virtually all my supplies from Weisenberger Millsl. Flour, both AP and Bread in 25# bags, yeast ijn 1-pound packages, other flours as needed F'rinstance, they sell semolina in 2-lb packages. So I'll usually pick up two or three packs, depending on my plans.

Fortunately, Weisenberger is only 40 minutes away, and I can drive right to the mill. If I had to pay shipping I might do things differently.

KYHeirloomer's picture

you can eliminate the expense of yeast by baking with sourdough

Wow! That one threw me for a loop.

There are lots of good reasons for using sourdough starters. But saving the cost of yeast? I mean, yeast---the least expensive ingredient in a loaf of bread.

I pay something like $3.15/lb for SAF Instant. Haven't a clue how many loaves that makes, but, on an average of 2 teaspoons per loaf, it's a whole bunch. One of these days I'll actually keep score, but let's say it's as few as 50 loaves. That makes the yeast component all of 6.3 cents.

Really. If six cents a loaf is truly a consideration, perhaps you shouldn't be baking bread in the first place?


pmccool's picture

I bake with sourdough because I like it.  That it cuts down on my yeast purchases is a benefit.

I bake with yeast (the commercially-produced kind) because some breads/pastries require it to produce a specific outcome. 

I am blessed to have the financial resources to make either course possible.

If you think about it, the poster whom you (I hope thoughtlessly) dissed might be baking bread to achieve savings.  Therefore, every expenditure may have to be carefully considered, even those that are under a dollar.  If that's the case, a touch of grace is warranted.  And even if they are simply disciplined with their household budget instead of spending carelessly, that's something to be commended.  We'd all be in a better financial place right now if people across the financial spectrum had applied their resources as prudently in the past few years.

Kind regards,


KYHeirloomer's picture

I wasn't dissing anyone, Paul.

Keep in mind that the post we're talking about came out of the blue; as we hadn't been discussing cost savings per se. And it doesn't make economic sense, because, as I said, yeast is the least important cost element in bread making.

Understand that I grew up dirt poor, and fully understand tight budgets. But what you also have to understand is that poor people not only suffer from not having a lot of money, they also are forced, often, to buy in the least cost-effective manner. What's important to them, with any particular purchase, is the actual cost, not the economies of scale they could realize if they had the money.

Example: I pay $10.95 for flour in 25 pound bags. That works out at 43 cents/pound, versus 65 cents when purchased in five pound bags. So, on the face of it, buying in quantity makes sense. And the poorer you are, the more you appreciate the savings. But it could very well be that 11 bucks, in one piece, is more than the budget can stand, whereas $3.25 might be a stretch, but feasible. So you buy the expensive flour.

Same situation applies to yeast. At the per pound price, I pay 20 cents an ounce, versus 99 cents in those 4-ounce bottles. Envelopes, at $1.99 for three, are an incredibly expensive way to buy yeast. But somebody on a tight budget might have no other choice.

Despite the contention of the OP, turning to sourdough isn't necessarily a savings. Sure, you avoid the cost of yeast. But, by the same token, to maintain the starter you are throwing half of it away every few days. Half the flour is most likely much more expensive, in the long run, even than buying yeast in envelopes.

The long and the short of it is, it might not be cost effective for somebody in financial straits to make their own bread at all, because they are compelled to go with the most expensive ways. A commercially made loaf of bread can often make much more economic sense.

No, that pre-made, preservative filled bread won't be as nutritionall good, nor will the flavor even approach home-made. But if the bulk cost of yeast is the deal breaker, it may be the only realistic choice for that budget.

That was my only point.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

sourdough can be quite inexpensive once you've established your starter, especially when you're buying flour in 25# bags. All you have to do is figure how much you want to keep and at what hydration. A 60-70% hydration starter can last a few weeks in the refrigerator without being refreshed. I do it and so do others. I just keep the refresh to about 150g or so and put it in the fridge before it peaks out. The day before I want to bake I just take out a quantity for a seed, let's say 30g. I add water and flour to meet the hydration and quantity I want, mix well, and cover. After about 8-12 hours I can easily have between 150-200g of bubbling starter of white, whole wheat, rye, or any combination of flour I want. I still have enough leftover to bake three more loaves as long as I plan my starter buildup and my next refreshment. In the summer, it will take less time than that. You could do the same.

Using a starter can be easily done but you will have to approach it with a different mindset than when using dry yeast. I have a container with a lot of ADY in it in the freezer for the times when I want to play with that but my established starter (still unnamed) is my favorite.

Chuck's picture

... the jar of...Yeast twice in a month ...

Many years ago when I started buying those jars rather than the packets, I was truly amazed at the huge price differential. But then when I started buying yeast by the much larger vacuum-packed brick, I was truly amazed all over again to see that same huge price differential again.

I had so much trouble finding a convenient source of yeast in those larger quantities that I finally resorted to mail order (which may be a good idea anyway as you can get the exact brand and type you want, for example SAF Instant). I split the first brick into empty jars with tight-fitting screwtops that I had, and left the rest still sealed in its foil vacuum pack, and put all of it into my refrigerator. Indications are that it will keep for at least a few years (your turnover is probably much faster than that:-) with no problems at all.

JoeV's picture

Yes, it's quite the epiphany to see how much small quantities of yeast cost compared to the commercial size "bricks." I buy my SAF Instant yeast from the same Amish bulk food store I get my 50# bags of Montana Sapphire flour from. I was there a couple of weeks ago and yeast was $2.87 per pound, and teh bag of flout was $18. I like this flour because it is neither bleached or bromated. I package it in tightly sealed 10# plastic bags and keep it in my pantry. It lasts me about 3-4 months. The 1# brick of SAF yeast is enough for 96 loaves of bread.

KYHeirloomer's picture

More than just a couple of years, Chuck.

So long as it's kept cool and dry, yeast will last two days longer than forever.

I keep my working stock in one of those small jars, in the fridge. The rest of the foil-pack goes in the freezer. Have never had a problem with yeast weakening using this system.